tv Charlie Rose PBS November 29, 2011 12:00am-1:00am PST
>> rose: welcome to our program. de xiaoping created the embodiment of e economic miracle. there's a new biography about him by ezra gel, professor emeritus at harvard. >> i decided i owed it to the public to help them understand what was happening in asia and i cod think of nothing that would contribute more to that understanding than understanng how deng xiaoping who laid the course for china today did it, what kind of person he was and what kind of legacy he left. i irk also joining us, alexander payne, the director of the new film call "the descendents." >> my husband had to come for work so we thought we'd make a vacation of it. yoknow the owner? >> hugh king he's my cousin. >> oh, you probably know my husband, then, brian sere?
>> no, i can't say i do. >> like so many people, i've been madly in love with film for as long as i can remember. i think a lot of it is... >> rose: well, to look at the film... >> if you love film, you love life. it's the mt mirror we have if we look to art in general to be a mirror of our lives and give us context and something to reflect off of. we've been waiting millennia for film. rose: raze vogel and alexander payne when we continue.
he led china's economic transformation whichas made the country a global superpower today. but remained airm believer in one rty rule and led the crack wn to tiananmen square in 198 joining me is ezra vogel, his book examine it is legacy of the chinese leader, it's called "deng xiaoping and the transformation of china." i am pleased to have him here because he's widely respected for his knowledge and understanding of china so welcome. >> glad to be here. >> reporter: when did you decide to do this book? >> in the year 2000. when i retired, i decided i owed it to the public to do something that helped them understand what was happening in asia and i could think of nothing that would contribute more to that understanding than understanding how deng xiaoping who laid the course for china today did it, what kind of person he was and what what kind of legy he left. >> rose: okay. let's talk about that. but before... access to sources in china?
>> i read chinese and speak chinese. >> rose: mandarin and cantone? >> i don't speak cantonese, i do mandarin. and mandarin is the lingua franca. and i used mandarin for many years. all the officials in canton know mandarin as well. i was able to use a lot of the archival work that has been available. fortunately, while i was working on this the chrology of deng, which is a five-volume series of all of h important appointments was published and most no other western scholars had used it, that was a basic source for me. >> rose: why had no other western scholars used it? because they weren't allowed to, o or...... >> no. they hadn't gotten around to it. >> rose: how about access to people... >> i've had unusually good fortune.
being at harvard and having many good students and when jiang zemivisited harvard i was his host and he agreed to talk to me. the foreign minister is an old friend that i've known for many years. also the provincial secretary of gaung don wch led the reforms had a grandsonho he sent to me to work under me. i had very good connections to him and with his friends who tended to be much more liberal thanhe other leaders. and who actually were quite critical of deng. i felt it was necessary to get. contact the peopl with widely different views. i was able to see two of the deng children, one of them several times. i was able to see at least one or two children of all the other high officials. the officials themselves are dead, of course, but the children i was able to talk to quite frankly.
i was able also to see a variety of parties officials. i gave a lecture at the party school in the year 2000 and have known many people connected with the party. the foreign minister's son was a student of mine for a while so i had access to them. and i... then i even talked to four of the interpreters who worked for deng. so i had usually good access, and then i pushed the opportunities i had. i went to the local areas where deng came from and went to his home local area and talked to party historian there is. i lked to beijing, i went to a period in the mountains where he was in wartime and interviewed local historians there. i traveled the world talking t other officials like prime
minister hawk and, of coue, american officials. >> rose: they all were impressed by him? >> they all were. and it's quite striking that in the reviews of the book, all the people who knew deng are quite positive about the boo and about me andome of those who felt tha he clamped down too hard are critical and i think they're critical of deng >> rose: mainly about tiananmen square? >> yes. and the role he played earlier in land reform and in collect i havization and in the anti-rightist campaign. he clamped down on liberals. he was a stro malsupporter in the early years and a historian like me has to look at that very straight and acknowledge what went on and i do. /talk about those things. >> rose: tell me about his early background, deng xiaoping. >> at 16 he goes to france on
a... he thought he was goi there to work and study. it was 1920. he was the youngest in a group on a program that was to bring backigh technology and new ideas, new management skills from france which they ough was the best country. not just deng but many others after world war i thought this was the best country. but the idea was conceived before the war was ended and it was a great shortage of labor and they thought they could get go jobs but by 1920 there were no good jobs and the french workers were living under very tough circumstances and deng and the other chinese were at the bottom of the pool and when they fmed their studying group and tried to explain what was going on, the exclamations from the russian revolution which had just taken
place three years before deng arrived in france made a lot of sense. they saw capitalists exploiting workers, they saw workers exploiting foreign workers and imperialist countries taking advantage of the poorer countries of the world. and the ones who went with deng, they were not poor kids. they were the elite, the most talented young people who today would be given scholarships to harvard and other universities in this country. so they saw themselves as the vanguard that would link up with the poor people of the world and they formed a communist group in europe and deng stayed there five years. i think that commitment played a very key role in explaining what happened to deng. because maw had never been abroad. he didn't understand what was going on. en he took over in '49, his ideas were not very well formed in terms of the outside world. deng by having that experience and by linking up with others who had world experience and by
continuing to read the briefings that were supplied to him on what was going on around the world knew a very good understanding of the entire world. >> rose: he d a world view. >> he had a world view and felt that china could learn from other countries. and so i think that was one of the most... anotherthing i think that was very formative was that when he was a soldier from '37 to '49 mao was back in a more isolated area where he could talk about philosophy and teach people. deng was on the front line. he was a wartime commander. and for 12 years he had to fight battles and get his troops ready for the next battle. he didn't have time to talk about ideology. he had to reorganize, wor with the people,hen find the talent get ready for the next battle. and i think that very much
shaped the way he behaved when he had to a chance to come to power in '78. another thing that's very important, even when he was in europe, the leader of the chinese students was jaw enlie at that time, six years older than deng. after deng worked in a number of factories he became a gopher for zhou enlai. and zhou enlai was the grand strategist of the 1500 french chinese students in france. so he could identify with the strategy and when he got back to china within several years he was working under mao and in the early 1950s he already was very close to mao in understanding strategies that mao... it's like a person in the united states who in his 20s went to work in the white house and had a sense of our overall strategy and then continued to grow that 30 or 40
years before he took power. >> rose: so he knew what he wanted to do when he got power? >> he had a very good idea of what all the strategic issues were that had faced china and he seen a change from the soviet union friendship to american friendship. he'd seen a lot of very basic changes in the world. so... >> rose: what was was he in total admiration of mao? >> when he started out when he first met mao he was in total admiration. he had been asked to lea an upring in a province and worked like hell for a year and he did a brilliant job of trying to align withocal forces and after trying to get local supplies, line up local forces, prevent yourself from being invaded by the enemy and build up a future leadership group, i ended in total failure.
one year, total failure. he then went to soviet an now had... mao had done the same thing but succeeded. he was filled with admiration for mao and unlike a lot of people, he really understood what mao had achieved. >> rose: what did he think was... okay, what was that, then? >> he achieved... he had built a base area and kept it from the enemy and it was getting supplies and building up a core of people who would grow and be ab to foment the revolution, play a role in taking over china in the future and that area was secure, it was later attacked and they had to go on the long march. but ateast building that up was amazing but also now in the conduct of the civil war was really quite a brilliant military strategist. >> rose: he was. >> he was. and deng felt that... as he
wrote in an essay, he spent a year in the soviet union in' 26 27. during that year he wrote an essay saying the communists need a very tight organization. people have to follow the leader. and when mao did something, he felt he d to follow. and he did that right up until 1959. >> rose: did he maintain his relationship with zhou enlai? >> no. and there's a book by a man who spent ten years in the zhou enlai archives in china. and he's written a book and in that he says-- and i find that plausible-- that deng really became mao's man rather than zhou enlai's man. and the important positions he was given because of his regulationship to mow he had known zhou enlai in france, he had known anymore the underground in shanghai in the 1930s and he worked with anymore
beijing. but mao was in charge and deng was mao's man. zhou enlai and mao both died in the same year. they were both ill and they both knew it a they both knew they did not have long to live. and in those last years, mao began to push zhou enlai aside. partly becse he was too close to kissinger and too involved in america. partly bause he had cancer and he put deng in his place. and at that point zhou enlai and deng again developed a very close corporateive relationship where ou enlai in a way was a mentor for deng in learning about foreignolicy, learning about leadership of government organizations and they worked very closely together the very last years of zhou enlai's life. and when zhou enlai died, deng
was allowed to give the funeral oration because they had worked so closely in the end. >> rose: who decided on that? >> mao had to give his approval. there was a man who was the marshal who was the one that advocated it. he became the key maker after... the king maker after mao's death and that person... before mao died... because zhou enlai died first that mao gave a prudential to his request. >> rose: who was opposing deng chao peng's action at tiananmen? >> none of the high-level leaders at that point opposed him. but deng had split with who y you bong who died just before the beginning of tiananmen. >> rose: and his relationship with mao or... >> huh you bong had been very
close to zhou enlai until the time and in the early 1980s when deng had him appointed as general secretary of the party they worked very closely together. but deng felt he wasn't toug enough he'd been head of the youth league while deng was head of the party in '56 to '66. as head of the youth league he tried to encourage young people and give hope and talk about all the idealistic things they could achieve. deng as head of the party was the one... the buck stops there and he felt responsible for the country. earl the early 80s when lee y bong was encouraging people, dung felt he went to move too far. he had encouraged him to do that some but he went too far and
then two years later he dies and that's what set off the student demonstrations in tiananmen. >> what happened to him? deng xiaoping? he was somewhat protected the first couple years. the cultural revolution began in '66. he was criticized as one of the two leaders of the pitalist road and they were denounced and there was parade after parade we those two were criticized. but one of them died in jail witht medical treatment and in '69 deng was sentdown to the countryside where he w given quite a reasonable home. he had to work in the factory every morning, he had to start everyday with an hour of studying mao tse-tung poet and my chinese friends who have studied party history are convinced that what mao was
doing was saying look, you've got to listen to me a little more closely. you have an important future but you must listen and study my work more carefully. and then when lin bio died who was mao's appointed successor, surely theywere having to bring deng back and it w clear he was one of the people he was cultivating to be one of the two or three successors. >> rose: andhat did he think, deng chao peng, of the cultural rev constitution? >> he thought it was horrible, a terrible mistake. as you know his son jumped ou of a window and was crippled for the rest of his life. when prime minister nakasone asked deng what was the happiest and the least... and the unhappiest time of his life, the happiest time was when he was crossing that... the yangtze on the way to victory. the unhpiest time was the
cultural revolution. that's what he told prime minister faxonny. >> rose: so i assume now the happiest time might be to see that your vision of china has found such an extraordinary reality. >> i think if you relied today, you would be extraordinarily happy with testimony enormous achievements that were very much in line. he selected jiang zemin to be his successor and he selected hu jintao... >> rose: to succeed jiangzemin. >> to be the leading successor. for 20 years you can imagine how many countri a person would find the terms ofs after could succeed and... go ahead. >> rose: what's interesting is jiang zemin was very popular with western leaders. >> yes, he was. >> rose: much admired and liked because of his charm and almost western style. >> and that's part of the reason
that deng selected him because he could combine that-- the charm and his commientto opening-- with a toughness. and he had crackdown on shanghai newspaper and he had cracked downn student movement and the 1986 and had done in the a relatively quiet way that was... >> rose: and hu jintao h cracked down in tibet. >>es. and denganted somebody who was very firm and hu bong had not been firm enough and i suspect although we don't have the smoking gun he probably thought that the man riding high a year before the tiananmen incident was tough enough, they are. >> rose: how did he define, "tough"? to make the hard steps that make sure there's nothing that happens that threatens the stability of the regime? >> yes, i think that's right. deng felt that from the opium
war up to 1949 the country was in absolutely chaos and really couldn't progress. in the cultural revolution, it was in danger o going through same thing. it was an ablute mess. and we in america live in stable regime and a democratic regime and we can assume stability. but deng was not the only one who felt tha you needed stability and it took a lot of work and required some tough measures to achieve that. >> re: mao was called the great helmsman an deng was called the steel factory. where did that come have from? >> the great helmsman again was mao propaganda. and mao referred to deng as the steel factory. he was very tough. mao also said he could bead b like a needle inside a ball of coon. he was a very tough, firm, confident person.
if you fight wars were 12 years and you're constantly on the front line or very near the front line it steels you and he was one of those. >> rose: what was the influence of lee kuan yew on deng chao peng? >> he was very impressed. and he first met lee kuan yew i 1978. lee kuan yew about a foot taller 25 years younger and the took shook hands and they already knew about each other. for deng chao peng, i don't know whether you're old enough to remember as i do in the 40s and 50s, we were taught that chinese confusionism makes it very difficult to modernize and the chinese culture may not permi modernization. it doesn't work with modernization.
but when deng went to singapore, here was ethnic chese locality that brought order, they had modernized, had a very good sense of history, it was clean and green, he admired it immediately. and i have no doubt that that encouraged deng to think if chinese ethnic people in singapore can do it why can't we? >> rose: lee kuan yew told me he sent a bunch of people in singapore to start studying what it was they did and to report to him. >> he did and i have great admiration for what they learned from lee kuan yew but they did the same thing to the united states in much larger... they sent similar groups to japan and many groups to europe as well. so it was not for enemies excloseive to singapore. >> re: i'm impressed even today about how the chinese simply... ere is this. there is this urgency. there is this sort of imperative
to learn everything they possibly can and figure ou every possible way it benefits china. >> rose: that was pure deng. pure deng. in 1978, frank press, who was the president's science advisor, went to china. they were beginning to talk normalization and deng said to press "as soon as we normalize we want to start sending students and before a lot of years we want to start sending a lot of students." and frank press felt that deng was urging him so much and wanted an answer right away that he called president carter at the white house and i interviewed carter and he says "we woke me up at 3:00 in the morning, he didn't have to wake me up." but was under such pressure. i said go ahead, we'llake the students. i think that just illustrates how ready deng was just before normalization already planning as soon as we normalized we're
going to send students abroad. deng felt that the key was science and technology. that was the most important. and we needed... >> rose: and he was right. >> he's probably right and he sent people everywhere to learn as much as they could as you... there have been over a million chinese students who have been abroad since 1978. as far as i can tell there were zero in the united states in '78 from mainland china on a regular basis. and so he opened that up. deng openethat up. >> rose: his impressions of america when he made that trip? >> he was very happy with america. he was overjoyed there was a wonderful reporter who accompanied him on the trip said he responded like an american politician who was getng the audience on his side and when he put on that cowboy hat and he hashis wonderful grin that showed to americans that here
was a guy who is lapping up america and he loved america. one of the best reporters who was at that incident wasorville shell. orville shell says that pictu when relayed into china conveyed the impression that all the stuff we've been teaching america for the past few decades about imperial schism all wrong. america is a wonderful place. and that picture became a symbol both in the united states for china and in china for what they can imbibe in the united states. >>. >> rose: tiananmen square. tell me about how he responded to that. >> of course, it began... you know, the student demonstrations beganbecae of the funeral observance for lee bong. and it began in an innocent way. the world press was there
because gorbachev was visiting china and deng had been the one who, in 19, went to moscow in the fine arguments and he split. and here in 1989 gorbachev was coming to beijing on deng's terms. he wasulling troops out of mongolia, he was getting vietnam to pull out of cam pod ya. and he was pulling troops out of afghanistan. so... the soviet union had accepted his conditions so the world press was invited to see the renewal of the relation between russia and china. deng made it very clear to the americans that it was not going to be like the '50s. they were not going to have a that clo a relation but they wanted a normal relation. deng wanted a pieceful environment with all major powers. rose: so he could growhe economy. >> so he could grow theconomy and people could improve their
way of life. and so that's why people were there and at a very critical time someone went to north korea very a visit that had been planned a long time, ahead of time and jao jiang writes that hehad to go ahead because otherwise it would seem that china were inhaos. other people had different interpretations b. there was no clear leadership. deng by that time was already approaching his 88th birthday and... i'm sorry 85. he was approacng his 85th birthday. he stepped down when he was 88. t at the time of the tiananmen he first tried to get order by sending out troops as soon as gorbachev left. he told the troops to go in and resume order. but the troops were stopped. they were told not to shoot and
they didn't stop. they couldn't... couldn't get order because they were so chaotic and there were too many pele stopping the troops so the troops withdrew, they felt they had no choice. some of these students and sympathizers in beijing, they put buses in the way and when the carloads, soldiers would come they would stop and then the people would cut the tires, they didn't want the troops in there. and at that point that was may , 1989. and deng asked them withdraw to the outskts and then... it wasn't just deng, other leaders also felt they had no choice but to move in troops and tell them do what you need to do to keep order. and they did and there are various estimates of how many people died in the process. some people had official figures or maybe 300, 400, some very
careful military attaches who tried to get figures estimate 700, 800. some west yearners estimate as high as 2,500. in any case, there were a lot of deaths on the streets of beijing, which we saw on television. and that led to sanctions on the part of the united states and i'm sure deng felt he did what he had to do. he... >> rose: it was a price he was willing to pay. >> he had to pay it. he felt he had to pay... his job is to keep order in china, he had a responsibility, he had no other choice. >> rose: chris pass on the in writing a review of your book said "it's unfair but inevitable that deng's life will be viewed through the prism of this catastrophe. those of us in beijing before the crackdown should not have been carried away by the epic romance of what was happening in the streets. we should have listened more carefully to the seasoned hack boss who told us it would all end in tears and that deng's whole career showed he would
never accept such a challenge to the authority of theommunist part >> i think a lot of americans who were in beijing at the time also had someelf-reflection on... so many americans were so encouraging. they wanted a democracy. and they were out there ready to demonstrate for it. and so i think that perhaps too many americans gave too many encouragement without having a tough and realestic estimate of what the chinese would do. >> rose: that is one mark. there are those who have reewed your book as you well know. you read the reviews, aassume. >> rose: >> i've read a lot. >> rose: and many of them are enormously... view this as a powerful biography and lead to much greater understanding of someone who changed a significant part of the world. because of deng xiaoping peng we've seen the largest migration
of people into the middle-class. >> over 300 million people across the poverty line. and china is now... we're talking about the rise of china because it's going to be one of the two great powers in the next few decades. >> rose: there are nose who at the same time say ezra vogel is in love with s subject. and that the narrative is not critical eugh because in deng chao peng's toughness there were things that are not attractive. >> that is wh they say. >> rose: (laughs) >> i think my objective collar friends who... all tho things are there but i think that you're right. i think what chris patton said that tiananmenasts such a paul that they went... they say deng's awful, he was a terrible man. he did all those tngs and as a biograph i tell about all
those things he did. and i... i don't yell awful, awful, awful as some of them would write. >> rose: but there's also the conquest of tibet. >> well... but tibet wasn't a conquest. he sent troops to tibet. but the significant thing was battles about tibet before the tibet was taken when lot of tibetan soldiers lost their lives and therefore they were not able to defend it when chinese troops marched in. but i think in long term historians will look at deng as i have for his role in leading a backward country into the modern world. >> rose: who inevitably will be the largest economic power in the world sooner rather than later. >> and he's the guy that did it an he set the country on that course and defined the course that they should take. >> rose: what do you think
china's future is? >> i think in terms democracy and freedom we can't expect china to choose the same course we chose. they'll choose their own course and we have had experience with local elections, giving more power to legislative.. the national people's congress and local people's congress. what dengelt was h much you could do depends on the stability of the situations. and in 1978 he allowed a democracy wall to take place for three or four months before he cracked down. in 1980 he gave a speech for political reform, august. in 1986 again he allowed a very broad discussion on political reform, and i think we can expect that china will begin to move more in the directions as
they feel confident. right now they're not coident at all, as you say. there's very... they're very tense and very worried and they have a lot of local protts. >> rose: because they see there's possible tensions, urban rural, coastal, interior and poor, rich >> and there are a lot of ambitious middle-class people who made it on their when fl that other people have gotten ahead because of their connections and so they're very much against those political coections. and they want a more open system. so will they be more confident? i don't see it coming very soon. then you raise the question will he be aggssive? if deng had his way, no. they are very strong in pushing their rights in the south china sea now.
>> right. >> rose: and the situation there is that many countries have made claims and there is no historical base for precise decisions. the history was made at a time when youidn't ha international rules and regulations. and so now the various countries are putting in their bids for a solution in the south china seas situation. >> rose: what did deng xiaoping think of henry kisser. >> >> he thought he was a very able diplomat. he thought that he and zhou enlai had collude add little too much and pushed the americans away and perhaps it was not sufficiently anti-soviet. that the politicians in the united states he liked best probably were zbigniew brzezinski, scoop jackson. >> rose: henry jackson. >> they we very anti-soviet and he could really work for w
them. deng was a person who made decision not so much on personal qualities as what the position was and how that related to national interests. so it was less is he mymy style that sle than does he meet national interests? he also got along very well with people george bush, sr.. >> rose: who was the ambassador. >> they became friends. this was when deng was in charge so after tiananmen i think the o of them played a key role. reagan liked him. tip o'neill liked him. jimmy carter liked him. nixon liked him. people... very different views all found that deng was the guy he could work with. he was a straightforward guy, he said what he wanted and so i think he respected him adds a
great diplomat but for him the key issue is how can they help improving relations between china and the united states and what can they do for china? >> rose: this book is called "deng xiaoping and the transformation of china." >>ose: alexander payne is here. he is a director and screen writer. his movies have been praised for their humor and pathos. "xhipl comment" magazine calls payne "one of an endangered species." his new movie is his first feature anymorseven years and here is the trailer. >> sorry to bother you, matt king. i've come to pick up my daughter alexandra. alex? >> dad? what's up, dad? what's happeni? >> you need to come home and see your mom. i'm the backup parent. the understudy. you're supposed to be getting your act together. >> i've been doing really well,
actually. >> it was elizabeth, my wife, in a hospital. my doctors are testing me. >> look who's here. get out of my underwear, you freak! back inside, now! >> real good job you're doing. >> we have to go through this thing together, you and scottie and me. >> dad, i'll be a lot more civil with him around. >> sup, bro. >>on't ever do that to me again. i have to go around and tell people what's happening, family and close friends. >> i don't want to talk about mom with anyone. >> look, whatever you two fought about, you have to drop it. grow up. >> you really don't have clue, do you? mom was cheating on you.
>> who is he? i'd like to know who the guy is that my wife was... seeing. >> what you've been going through, that's a tough deal. >> just trying to keep my head above water. >> how often do old people just haul off and cold cock you like that? >> rose: welcome. >> thanks, thanks for having me. >> rose: so tell me how this got started because you were going to make another movie and you didn't make that movie then somebody comes up with the idea of "the descendants" and you looked at that and said... "i haven't done anything in seven years." >> sort of. it's true i was ax to direct. i was very anxious to direct a
feature and after "sideways" i never would haveredicted that seven years would elapse before the next one. so that's true. but it's been harped on a lot recently as i've been making the rounds of these interviews. >> rose: you're absolutely right. >> i mean, i was busy, so my usual co-writer jim tabor and i spent over t ars, two and a ha years writing something... a very ambitious sort of science fiion social satire. >> rose: downsizing? >> correct. >> rose: so why didn't it get made? >> well, it was a difficult screenplay and we finished in the may or june or '09 and i thought correctly it was going to be hard to get financing for it and we-- by we, my two producing partners being jim taylor and jim burt-- has optioned this book "the descendants" in' '07 and i was urged to do it. i said "i'm too busy writing
this other thing with jim and my mind couldn't really allow another film to enter my consideration so anyway i was very anxious to direct and when we finished "downsizing" i thought it was going to be tough to get made. that's when i dived into "the descendants" and that was in july of '09. >> rose:ow much of an appeal was making a film in hawaii? very appealing. very appealing. d not for just the obvious of the sun and the surf and the ture which is all prest and ntastic. i had been to hawaii my times and i was aware of that very unique and complex social and cultural structure and fabric out there. and and i thoht ming this film had allow... would allow know make a documentarian's hat as well. >> rose: you also have been praised for your casting insights. >> the only compliment i would
give myself in film making is i think i cast well. that's true. >> rose: and you didn't cast clooney in "sideways." >> correct. >> rose: because? >> i didn't think he was right for the part. >> rose: because? >> i was flattered that he... this was for the part that thomas hayden church... >> rose: that he did well. >> the role called for a really washedup t.v. actor. i mean that was the part. and i thought... >> rose: that's a leap of faith for george. >> well, i don't normally care about a starr actor's context outside of the film but in this case i had to consider it because to have george clooney, one of the most famous and handsome and successful and movie and t.v. stars playing this guy in his aid inier i thought that would be too much of the joke. >> rose: how about having him as a character named matt whose wife is having an affair? >> he's well cast for that. >> rose: (laughs) how so, sir? >> well, in this ca he was my
first and only choice for this. >> rose: even though... >> you know man. >> rose: i do, well. >> you know he's a delightful fellow and i wanted to work with him since meeting him for "sideways" and i thought he'd be terrific at this. he's the right age, the right look. also the character calls for someone who's bit emotionally detached having a bit of an awakening and i thought well, mr. clooney often sort of cool in his parts, not all of them but in many and to see him wake up to a more emotional state i thought it would be interesting. >> rose: i wonder if he's easier to direct because he's also a director. >> that's exactly right. i've had the experience with both jack nicholson and george clooney who have both directed and directing actors who have themselves directd is much easier. they understand the director's problems and they wish to serve. >> rose: have you ever wanted to act snbt
>> yeah. a little bit. but i... >> rose: why don't you p yourself in your own movie in >> i'm shy. i'm shy. i never think i'm right for any parts in my films. >> rose: well ceshgs@a part for god's sake. this is your movie. >> yeah, yeah. thank you for that. if someone else casts me and could direct me well i would do it. >> rose: they have to prove they can direct you well? >> as a director i would know how to make their life easy. >> so this movie is about family? >> my own into it was more from the point of view of the protagonist, dealing with his family which... we can say it's aboufamily and that's fantastic... >> rose: this is about george dealing with his wife who's dying, his daughter who's wonderful if this film, by the way. >> yes, she is. >> rose: tell me more, your entry into the film was? >> through him. through... it's... the book is
first person seeing the proceedings through his eyes and i was interested in that and acarried over certain first person sense into the narrative of theovie as well. it has voiceover and is very locked into clooney's character. >> what do you say to those directors who say "i'd rather develop new material than somebody else's material? >> i say that's wonderful. a my view canbe anything but i personally loved doing adaptations from time to time because a book can suggest a whole world. i never could have thought of. i never could have thought of a story like this. >> rose: are you glad you went to film school rather than whatever else you were going to do you were thinki about going to journalism school. columbia, was it? >> yes, when i was a senior in college i applied to five film schools anto columbia journalism school. and i would have been very happy... >> rose: why did you choose o ov the other? >>
>> i had been a film buff my whole life and... but didn't receive a whole lot of sort of encouragement from my family, let's say, once got into film they were very encouraging but i was encouraged to go to law school or do something more straight. so going to film school was a distant dream. but i knew when i got the acceptance letters to film school that i had to try it. >> because you didn't know whether you had a gift or whether you liked it both? >> i had to find out whether my love of watching films would translate into my love of making them and to find out if i had talent. >> rose: is there anything not to le about making films? >> there's a lot not to like. >> rose: like? >> despair involved between lms. >> rose: between films? not within films? despair might be waiting for the next film to come along or struggling to get it... >> or if you make a turkey and it's hard to get your next one off the ground foryou make a successful film like "sideways" and years can go by andwhat
my next film going to be? am i going to get the budget i need? all of those things. >> rose: did "sideways" deliver all the things you wanted it to do in terms of giving you the opportunity to do other things? >> it actually did more than i thought it would do. i never expected it to aieve that degree of success it did. i thought it was a nice little comedy. even kind of sleight. >> rose: it's a lovely story. >> thank you. and the manho wrote the book it's to his credit. >> rose: about wine and relationships. >> yes. >> rose: you can't go wrong there, wine and relationships >> i didn't know: i just thought it was a nice will the movie. >> rose: now your former wife is in the film. >> correct, sandra oh. >> rose: a great actress. >> yup. >> rose: how is it to direct someone that's that close to you? >> it was a few years ago. it was fine. she's a terrific actress. >> rose: do you know what you're
going to do next? are you going to go back to "downsizing?" >> not quite yet. i will in a couple years but i'm anxious just now to shoot... >> rose: jump into something. >> yes. so the first time in my career i have my next two... not just projects lined up but the scripts are written. >> rose: your scripts or someone else's scripts? >> they are both written... this is another first in my career. by others. >> rose: are you scared of that? >> no. >> rose: do you like the scripts? >> i've writtennly out of sperion. >> rose: (laughs) can you tell us about what these films are? >> yes, the next is a father/son road trip from billings, montana to lincoln, nebraska, that gets waylayed in a town in central nebraska. >> rose: aren't you from omaha? >> i'm from omaha. that's the basic story there. then following that is the adaptation of a graphic novel by a fellow named daniel claus out of oakland, california, who ten years or so ago wrote "ghost
world" if you recall that film. so he's adapted his own gphic novel for me. >> rose: now if you look at the kind of things you have done is there some link? some common denomator? is r there certain kinds of characters that we find in all of these films? a certain kind of male psyche? and i'm staying away from the word that you hate, which is loser, which i agree with you. because matt is not a loser. >> yeah because if they are losers we are all losers. they're just people. >> rose: would you like to make an espionage thriller? >>h, yes. i want to make a western for hur and i would like to dive into all sorts of different genre bus for this first part of myareer it beenice little comedies. >> rose: how would you describe... if you look at the film like "descendants" is there a tone there some people look for? how would you describe the tone of that film? >> no matter what the... i guess the last few films i've de are
essentially sad stories or dramas in a way but told like comedies. i basically consider myself to date a comedy director. but i consider comedy very serious form. >> rose: what is it about film that makes you... that you love? is it telling store please? >> it's a very interesting question because i... like so many people, i've been madly in love with film as long as i can remember. i think a lot of it is... >> rose: well, to look at the films... >> if you love film, you love life. it's the most real mirror that we have. if we look at art to be a mirror of our lives and give u context and something to reflect off of, film... we've been waiting millennia for film. this completelyer have similar
mirror. it captures time. it defeats death in a way because you can see people who have long since died you think capte moments in life, core samples of someone's life. if you're a film actor like george clooney and jk nicholn who have been in films their enti adult lives you have your entire life record for posterity. >> rose: h about sitting at this table for your entire life? >> and also i like the plasticity of it. i like the jigsaw puzzle of making a film, forraling all of these forces and elements into a two hour analog form. i like the feature film form. >> is an hour and a half or an hour 45 minutes the ideal time? >> yeah, plus or minuswo hours. it has been for years. you know that. >> rose: why is that?
>> i don't know, that's a good queson. i wonder if it goes back to theater. >> rose: is that the... >> or if it's about... >> rose: theater pieces are two hours? >> maybe it these do with the baghdad. >> rose: you think? >> maybe. >> rose: if you were making "the descendants" over would you change it atsmall now that you can look back and now that you've had ext experience of lkinwith people... >> that's a roh question because i just finhed it and my collaborators and i put our all into it. at the... there are a few cs i'd like to adjust. a few more frames there, little ticering but, no. it's a gd snapshot of where my collaborors d i were at the time we were making that film. rose: is the joy... some directors say the thing they
love is shooting. for you it is... >> editing. iting is the natural state of man. it's a really beautiful place to be. you're sitting atop of the pain of writing and the physical exhaustion although exhilaration of directing and that is where you put the fm together and that's where enough access to a language exclusive to cinema, which is montage. and that goes back to earlier question of yours, why do i like movies so much? because i really like editing. and i spent a long time editing, this is nine months from start to finish. >> rose: do you edit a rough cut that's two and a half hours, three showers in >> sure. you start long, include everything in the screenplay and then whittle down. >> rose: good luck to you. >> thanks, thanks for having me. pleasure. captioning sponsored by rose communications